Touch, the essence of caring for people with end-stage dementia: a mental health perspective in Namaste Care.

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Aging & mental health, ISSN: 1364-6915, Vol: 17, Issue: 5, Page: 571-8

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Daniel Nicholls ; Esther Chang ; Amanda Johnson ; Michel Edenborough
Informa UK Limited; Taylor & Francis Group
Nursing; Medicine; Geriatric Nursing
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article description
This article presents the mental health aspects of 'touch' associated with a funded research project: Avoiding 'high tech' through 'high touch' in end-stage dementia: Protocol for care at the end-of-life. These mental health aspects highlight the human need for touch that continues up until and inclusive of the final stages of life. This study was informed by Simard's (2007) 'high touch' protocol based on the End-of-Life Namaste Care programme for people with dementia. The article is situated in relation to the research project which used a three-phase mixed methods approach. Data explored in this article are derived from focus groups conducted at three residential aged care facilities located in metropolitan and regional areas of NSW, Australia. The exploration of touch vis-a-vis mental health fell under two broad themes: touch by others and touch by the person. Sub-elements of these themes comprised touch towards a physical objective, touch towards an emotional objective, touch of objects and touch of others. The overarching outcome of interconnectedness embraced environmental awareness and human and life awareness. These two broad themes, with their accompanying elements, express the essential nature of mental health as a reciprocal connectedness, with reciprocal impacts on both those people with advanced dementia and their carers.